WIAW: Adios, Junior Year

First things first–yes, I did change my blog design after at least a year and a half with the previous one. I just needed something new, plus I like the sidebar ‘about me’ things everybody has and the old design wouldn’t let me do that! 

I’ve been waiting for this day all year. Well, maybe not, but I’ve definitely been for at least the past month or so! The last day of my junior year of college is TODAY…and how crazy is that? I remember when college felt sooooo far away, and now I’m really close to graduation. Scary stuff.

I know my blogging’s been pretty sporadic anyways for the past few weeks but it’s gonna get even more infrequent in the next week or so. First of all, I’m moving back a lot of my stuff this afternoon and moving home for the summer. Then my family’s driving back up here this weekend to load everything else up and my mom will be doing some epic cleaning (maybe not that dramatic) so I can turn in my keys to my complex for the summer and end my lease. It’s a pain to have to move everything out, only to move it back in again in August, but I’d rather not pay the extra rent just to keep my stuff here for the summer. And then next week is when I hopefully start my internship, so it’ll be a whirl of paperwork, a drug test and plenty of excitement. And there’s a doctor’s appointment thrown in there as well, so it all makes for quite a crazy several days. So I’m really sorry if I don’t post here too much or comment on all of your blogs but I will be back as soon as the craziness dies down.

What wasn’t too crazy was the meals I enjoyed over the past week. Well, unless you consider a lot of random experimenting to be crazy, but all I know is it was delicious. And I had plenty of fun, despite finals week and moving out looming. Hey, I only had one actual final exam this semester, so paper writing and projects were the name of the  game, and a little less stressful than studying.

Bringing back an old favorite from last summer: pineapple 'fried' quinoa.

Bringing back an old favorite from last summer: pineapple ‘fried’ quinoa.

I’m doing my best to embrace the healthy grains again. I have to say I prefer the ‘ancient’, gluten free, psuedo-grains such as quinoa and buckwheat, for their stellar nutritional profile and higher protein, not to mention their deliciousness. I had some leftover quinoa in my fridge from a couple of weeks ago, and I remembered how much I used to love this random stirfry I threw together for the first time last year around my birthday. The best part about it is it’s totally customizable, so I threw in the last of my frozen edamame (I’m trying to finish up or toss things that aren’t as easily transportable before I move home), orange cauliflower, spinach, curry powder, coconut aminos (way better than soy sauce!) and fresh pineapple was a given. Not too far off from the original, and topped with sprouted pumpkin seeds and cashew butter, it was a total winner dinner.

Pineapple fried quinoa leftovers in a nori wrap, side of Thai lemon curry cashews.

Pineapple fried quinoa leftovers in a nori wrap, side of Thai lemon curry cashews.

And the little bit I had leftover made the perfect nori filling for lunch one day. I think I’ve been loving on the Asian and Mexican flavors a lot lately, between my homemade guac obsession to constantly resupplying my pantry with those addicting Thai lemon curry cashews. Maybe I could combine the two and create a Mexican stirfry or an Asian taco…

Poooool time. Pool > studying. Sorryimnotsorry.

Poooool time. Pool > studying. Sorryimnotsorry.

My apartment complex does have a pool, but they’ve been slacking on opening it up (uh, kinda late there, management. Almost everyone’s moving out this week…) so when my friend invited me to her complex’s pool on Monday, I jumped on the chance to lay out. Honestly, I usually just lay out by the pool versus actually swimming, but I did go in it a few times just to cool off. Guys, I’m so happy. We finally have my dream weather, aka 80s and sunny. With afternoon thunderstorms. Basically, it’s finally summertime in Colorado.

A not-so-pretty carrot cake protein pancake (mix of garbanzo flour+peanut flour with shredded carrot and cinnamon in the batter) topped with chopped dried fig and coconut butter crumbles.

A not-so-pretty carrot cake protein pancake (mix of garbanzo flour+peanut flour with shredded carrot and cinnamon in the batter) topped with chopped dried fig and coconut butter crumbles.

I don’t get how some people make their protein pancakes look so perfect. I do okay with multiple, small-sized pancakes but a full size one is just asking for trouble. I thought I waited long enough to flip, but part of the top crumbled off so I cooked it in two pieces. It luckily didn’t burn, but it certainly wasn’t round or anything, and parts of the inside were still undercooked. It tasted great, but my pancakes skills need some work…

Quinoa flour+chocolate Sunwarrior protein waffle. Topped with strawberries, cacao nibs and coconut butter.

Quinoa flour+chocolate Sunwarrior protein waffle. Topped with strawberries, cacao nibs and coconut butter.

…which is why I stick to waffles. Sometimes they don’t quite hold up, but if I get the ratios just right, they turn out pretty perfect and intact. This one was a bit crumbly, but it mostly stayed together, and it tasted great, which is what really counts. Protein waffles are hard to make vegan, so I’m proud that most of mine aren’t complete disasters.

I love the sun.

I love the sun.

I’m glad I stuck through the crappy weather we got in April (and foot of snow on May 1st…thanks but no thanks, Mother Nature!) because it is absolutely gorgeous now! Like I said, 80 degree temperatures, lots of sun, minimal wind (but enough of a breeze to keep you cool) and the trees are blooming after being freaked by weird cold weather. And the grass, at least here in my college town, is nice and green after getting enough precipitation last month. If you’ve ever been to Colorado, you know that the grass here is generally brown because it’s basically a high altitude desert. I’ll be going back to brown lawns today (my hometown wasn’t blessed with as much snow) but I’m hoping we get some nice afternoon rains to keep the fire danger low and makes the grass nice.

Random but surprisingly good snack: half an avocado sprinkled with stevia, topped with organic crunchy PB, cacao nibs and coconut shreds.

Random but surprisingly good snack: half an avocado sprinkled with stevia, topped with organic crunchy PB, cacao nibs and coconut shreds.

I can’t remember where I first saw the idea for a sweet avocado, but I was really intrigued by it. I’ve really only used avos in guac, and had them raw in salads, but topping my avo with something other than lime juice or salt seemed weird. But I decided to try it with one of my favorite flavor combos (PB+cacao nibs+coconut) and it was actually really amazing. The key is a perfectly ripe avocado, so the flavor isn’t too overpowering. I still don’t like avocados plain (to me, they either need salt or something sweet to taste like anything) but now I have a new way of enjoying them!

Peanutty kelp noodles with romaine and carrots.

Peanutty kelp noodles with romaine and carrots.

Kelp noodles are still a favorite of mine, but especially now that it’s so warm and I prefer to do as little cooking as possible. I love that kelp noodles are raw, and they work out perfectly in salads, like this one. I used up some of my PB2 for the dressing (I finally finished the jar, and I’m glad it’s over because I did not like it, especially compared to real peanut flour), and added in carrots and romaine lettuce, aka the last of the produce I had until I went grocery shopping later that day.

Always need to have an awkward selfie.

Always need to have an awkward selfie.

The problem with poolside selfies is that A) I’m wearing a bikini which is super awks in a photo (and already sporting a sunburn) and B) I can’t really see my phone screen in the sun, so I end up taking them from a weird angle and usually have a weird face in them. #firstworldproblems

The best dessert/breakfast ever. Coconut cream (scooped off top of full fat coconut milk from fridge) blended with chocolate Sunwarrior protein powder and frozen banana chunks, topped with fresh strawberries and half a crumbled chocolate coconut Kit's Organic bar.

The best dessert/breakfast ever. Coconut cream (scooped off top of full fat coconut milk from fridge) blended with chocolate Sunwarrior protein powder and frozen banana chunks, topped with fresh strawberries and half a crumbled chocolate coconut Kit’s Organic bar.

This is like a super-rich mousse, but the best part is that it’s perfectly acceptable for breakfast, because it’s protein-packed. There was 16 grams alone in just the Sunwarrior, plus a few extra grams from the other ingredients and toppings. It’s also no added sugar, just the natural sugars from the fruits (the Kit’s bars are just date sweetened, like Larabars) and the stevia in the Sunwarrior, so it makes for a healthy dessert option that isn’t too sweet. And it’s so easy to make if you have a food processor, just add in the protein powder, coconut cream and frozen bananas (optional, but add a little sweetness and coldness) to the processor, blend, and top away! I’ve enjoyed this twice this week, once as a dessert and once as breakfast and it was perfect for either occasion. I only wish I had more coconut cream to make it again!

Any new breakfasts you’ve been trying out? What’s your ideal weather conditions?

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22 thoughts on “WIAW: Adios, Junior Year

  1. P says:

    Cute new layout! Sometimes change is good ;)!
    Lots of good eats here. Love the idea with the avocado! Glad Colorado is finally getting some GOOD weather and that you’re able to soak up some sun. I’ve definitely be soaking up some sun (unintentionally), but not by a pool :P!

  2. Aaaw,I absolutely love your new layout! 🙂
    You are indeed so pretty,Ashley,and I absolutely love your sweet avocado combo and your coconut-chocolate mousse-breakfast… Can I please come visit and you make it again for both of us? 🙂

  3. Congratulations on finishing up your junior year of college!! That is a huge accomplishment, and I am sure your senior year will be a fantastic one. I like the new blog layout, especially the very fruity background;) I am glad the weather is nice there; it has started to get into the 80s here as well, which makes me wish we had a pool…My pancake-making skills aren’t the greatest either, but at least they generally turn out edible! That sweet avocado combination certainly does sound interesting; I will have to try it out sometime. I remember one time I made a sort of avocado “ice cream” with frozen bananas, avocado, and soy milk, and it was actually delicious. I have been having a lot of green smoothies recently in the morning, since the weather has gotten warmer, and have discovered a new favorite combination: spinach, blueberries, vanilla soymilk, cinnamon, and frozen bananas.

    • I love the sound of that avocado ice cream, that’s something I’m going to try to recreate ASAP! And the green smoothie combo sounds delicious as well, I love the combo of blueberries and bananas.

  4. Congrats on finishing up your junior year, Ashley! I hope your senior year is the best yet! I am totally intrigued by the idea of a sweet avocado. I am obsessed with avocados and eat them all the time, but have never thought of having them like that! I generally just put them on salads/sandwiches. And last night I made an avocado hair mask (1 mashed avocado with 1-2T olive oil) and it made my hair really soft and shiny. Avocados are amazing, haha.

    P.S. I love the new blog layout! So fresh for summertime! And I just want to say that you look absolutely gorgeous in your new picture 🙂

      • You should definitely try it! It made me sad to “waste” an avocado (because, let’s be honest, I’d much rather eat it than put it in my hair), but it made my hair really silky and shiny!

  5. Congrats on finishing up your junior year! That’s really exciting. I’m also glad your weather is finally nice. I love the new layout, too.

  6. Love the new design, girlie! Although I’m suddenly craving mangoes 😉 And you look super pretty in that picture of you in the sidebar 🙂

    Congrats on being done your junior year! Super exciting. I can imagine how big of a pain in the butt it can be to move all your stuff, but you’re right – paying for it would be kind of a waste. Besides, you can use the extra money to go shopping or something 😉

    As for breakfasts, it’s funny you should ask because I actually have been trying out a new (old) breakfast. I’ve gone back to oats lately, and after almost a year without them, I have to say that they’re tasting mighty fine.

    • Haha I crave mangoes all the time now so I figured I might as well use them as my background!

      I’m so excited that you’ve gone back to oats again! I have to say that while I’m not a huge fan of them, your delicious-looking creations always make me want to eat them again.

  7. First of all, I LOVE the new layout! I pulled up your blog and was shocked to see something so different!
    Second, your quinoa dish looks delicious! I’m happy to see that your working on incorporating grains again- your body is going to love you for it.
    And third, a huuuge congratulations on finishing your junior year! Now enjoy every minute of your summer. (:

  8. Amelia says:

    Hi Ashley 🙂 are you ok girl? Congrats on finishing college for the year! But lovely you eat like a bird and kelp noodles aren’t really great to fill up on if you are underweight 😦 just a little encouragement please don’t feel so restricted- imagine the freedom when eating is effortless and guilt free! I eat heaps of normal carbs and grains and feel so much better for it! You have the healthy down now just find balance and fun 🙂

    • Thanks for the encouragement! I know I still need to work on finding the perfect balance between nutrients and enjoyment. Not that I don’t enjoy healthier options because I do but I need to remember that indulging once in awhile can be healthy for my body and mind!

  9. Plain Greek Yogurt + Frozen Berries + Crunch Melted Peanut Butter = best. breakfast ever.

    Congrats on finishing up your junior year girl!! I didn’t realize we were the same year in school 🙂 I can’t get over that graduation is right around the corner…

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